The Pirate Wind: Tales of the Sea Robbers of Malaya

The Pirate Wind: Tales of the Sea Robbers of Malaya

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While it is clear that these Malays were pirates and as such a menace to European trade, it was largely European interest with the East which made them so. It is true that the old Malay romance contain references to piratical cruises, yet there seems no doubt that piracy was not practised on a wholesale scale until the eighteenth century.

Dampier, who in 1686-7 lived for six months among the Illanuns, in later years the most formadable of all the Malay pirates, subsequently wrote a detailed account of them and made no mention of piratical propensities.

“What was it then that caused these people and their neighbours to revert from peace to piracy? The answer is the greed of the European Powers who traded in the Eastern seas.

From time immemorial outside commerce with the Archipelago had been in the hands of the Chinese, whose junks would come down in the north-east monsoon and return in the south-west laden with precious cargoes of spices, rattans, edible birds’ nests, camphor, sharks’ fins and pearls.

Then came the Portuguese and after them the Dutch, who bent on securing the trade for themselves alone, created a system of monopolies and by the treaties with the Malay rules were able to command the produce at their own rates and so undersell the Chinese.

Oxford in Asia Paperback. A great collectible

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